I blame the fiscal cliff. And why not? It is the so-called El Niño of today, the easily scapegoated scourge of our time. Wait. Why did I just modify El Niño? Have I too adopted the so-called media's latest tic? Damn it again! Damn you fiscal cliff!
There was plenty of gloomy economic news throughout the year. Yet, despite all those economic issues, the stock market ended the year at record highs, with the Dow up 25 percent and the S&P 500 up nearly 30 percent.
Welcome back to our annual year-end awards column! Part one of this column ran last week, just in case you missed it. We've got a lot to cover, so let's jump right in with no further introduction.
President Barack Obama and his family return early from Hawaii to Washington for fiscal-cliff talks; however, the constant wording that they were on "vacation" bewildered me.
How about the top 1 percent overall, people with AGI's over $344,000? They paid an average of just over 24 percent. And the top 0.1 percent? Those with AGI's over $1.4 million? They paid 24 percent. Fascinating. The rate dropped the higher you went into the top 1 percent.
Even when it comes to non-partisan issues such as preventing domestic violence and helping Americans whose lives have been devastated by a natural disaster, House Republicans have repeatedly voted 'NO.'
Without the confidence that consumers can enter loan transactions without a substantially amount of risk, then both lender and consumer will become like two left footed dance partners caught in an awkward embrace.
Dear Colleagues, I know it looks just terrible for us right now. Our caucus is badly split, we are getting killed in the polls, we have had to drop the demand to defund Obamacare, all the corporate leadership is mad at us for playing roulette with the debt, and there are even some likely primary challenges from mainstream business Republicans to our Tea Party incumbents. But fear not. We may lose a battle, but we will win this war. Why? Barack Obama will save us. He always does. He is effective on the campaign trail but as a legislative negotiator we can usually count on him to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. The irony is that all Obama had to do was resist our demands for more budget concessions and we would have had to fold.
Step three will come when an outraged tea party realizes that the president has outwitted them politically. They are likely to double down once more and try to impeach President Obama.
Congressional Republicans have gone directly from conservatism to fanaticism without any intervening period of sanity.
I wish I could see a way out of this ridiculous debt ceiling fight. Why ridiculous? Because remember, the money that the government needs to borrow in excess of the current debt ceiling is money they've already agreed to spend.
One thing is certain. Once Bernanke (and his printing press) retreat into the shadows, the politicians will definitely have to come up with the goods and take more decisive action than they have hitherto done.
What I find striking is a pervasive denial of the reality that economies are always fraught with uncertainty, as is much else in life, of course. So how is it that in recent years, this has become a major complaint?
How does one conduct herself each day among such partisanship, isolation, domestic and international disasters, and what seems like the daily fracturing not only of our nation, but also of our relationship with other nations? It's been a harrowing week trying to figure all of this out -- here's what I've established.
The debate over fiscal responsibility has been muddled by the Great Recession; inevitably, perhaps, arguments over long-term fiscal problems have been conflated with debates over short-term recovery programs. Both debates have suffered terribly as a consequence.
We've elected and reelected Congress people that we regularly rate lower than any time in history. What are we waiting for to make a change -- another crisis?